Aussiesploitation auteur John Lamond made the transition from editor to director by using a reliable exploitation-flick template, the mondo movie, for his debut film Australia After Dark. When the time came for directing venture number two, he chose a different but equally time-tested 1970’s exploitation style: the sex-themed documentary. It’s a style that sexploitation pros invented to get around community standards by presenting their fleshy wares in the context of a “documentary” that would educate viewers about sex or pornography. The end result could be defended in court as having “social value” while still giving the viewers all the horizontal-bop antics they craved.
And that’s exactly what Lamond did with The ABC’s Of Love & Sex, Australia Style: it presents the viewer with a series of sex-themed vignettes orchestrated around the letters of the alphabet, weaving in plenty of lightly erotic scenarios as a pair of narrators rattle off a series of facts about sex and the human body. In true sex-documentary style, there is a even a real medical professional on hand, one Maj. Briht Bergstrom-Walan, to offer her own professional commentary on all matters sexual.
The end results don’t convince for a second as a “legit” educational endeavor but they work quite well as light-hearted sexploitation. As his later hit Felicity proved, Lamond is right at home exploiting the female form with his camera and he devotes much of his running time to doing so (in the 1970’s style, there’s also a lot of matter-of-fact male frontal nudity as well). He maintains a nice balance of moods, offsetting comedic bits like a love-in-an-elevator scenario and a slapstick orgy scene with straightforward fantasy scenarios like a lakeside seduction and some artfully filmed yet surprisingly explicit bedside sex scenes done with real Swedish sex-show performers. The one serious note is a brief segment on the subject of rape: thankfully, this segment relies on suggestion instead of brutality and is handled with surprising seriousness.
It also helps that there is more to The ABC’s Of Love & Sex, Australia Style than just bump and grind scenarios. For example, the film opens and closes with unexpected and well-done bits of stop-motion animation that depict instructor “Leonard B. Lovitt” lecturing a sex education class. There are also interstitial bits that utilize a pair of dancers making their way around jumbo-sized alphabet blocks and brief bits of chalkboard animation for each letter. The director even adds the occasional pure comedy bit, the best being a witty moment where sex roles are reversed while depicting a pickup scenario at a singles’ bar. In short, Lamond and his collaborators make a genuine effort to make the proceedings as cinematic and creative as possible and it generates good will towards the results.
The end result is a fun throwback for 1970’s sexploitation buffs and is perhaps Lamond’s second-best film after Felicity. It might have been designed a disposable commercial quickie but there’s a real sense of craft and fun that make it worthwhile for genre students. If you have a sentimental fondness for late-night Cinemax style sexploitation, The ABC’s Of Love & Sex, Australia Style will fit the bill nicely.